Fancy Bear Goes Phishing: The Dark History of the Information Age, in Five Extraordinary Hacks

Farrar. May 2023. 432p. ISBN 9780374601171. $30. HIST
Shapiro (law and philosophy, Yale Law School; Legality) tracks the history of hackers and their motivation. The book concentrates on the five most prevalent types of cybercrimes that involve attacking computers with viruses that spy, steal, and release personal and business information—a threat to individuals and businesses alike. The book chronicles only one U.S. government action to counter these tactics: the 1986 Computer Fraud and Abuse Act that made it a federal crime to engage in any unauthorized activity on government computers. Shapiro references research conducted by Oxford University sociologist Jonathan Lusthaus, who wanted to understand hackers’ motivations. Lusthaus interviewed 250 people arrested for being cyberthieves in Eastern Europe and found that they there were not doing it for either altruistic or exploitive reasons. Instead, they were trying to test, refine, and improve their technical expertise in order to find jobs that paid enough in the cybersecurity field.
VERDICT This introduction to the hacker history and hackers’ incentives is a welcome addition for computers and technology collections. Will likely appeal to many types of readers.
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